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Former tennis champion hopes 'Linsanity' continues in Houston

2012/07/23 17:14:30

Newport Beach, California, July 22 (CNA) Former world No. 2 tennis player Michael Chang, a professional who once carried the hope of his fellow Asian Americans, expressed the hope Sunday that "Linsanity" will continue after Jeremy Lin starts playing for the Houston Rockets.

Twenty-three years ago, at the age of 17, Chang grabbed the world's attention by stunning Stefan Edberg in a comeback five setter to claim the men's singles title at the 1989 French Open, making him the youngest male winner at a grand slam singles event in history.

Chang, who bagged 34 men's singles victories in his professional career and made it to four grand slam singles finals, shares some similarities with the point guard of Taiwanese descent.

Just like Lin, Chang is a committed Christian. Moreover, both men were considered too small for their respective fields, with Chang being 1.75 meters in height and Lin 1.91 meters.

Chang said that after Lin started his rookie season in the NBA last year, it was difficult not to pay attention to his potential. And this year, the Taiwanese American's rise to stardom excited many people, in particular the ethnic Chinese and Asian American communities.

"We got the taste of it last season, and you know hopefully, he is able to go out and do just as well as he did," Chang said at a tennis camp on Sunday. "It will be a lot of fun to watch."

Retired in 2003, the former tennis ace's Chang Family Foundation organizes tennis camps every year to coach potential young talents in Newport Beach. Chang's father Joe and brother Carl also help out with the camps.

The retired tennis champion married his wife Amber Liu in 2008 and now has a 19-month-old girl Lani. He said he enjoys his family life very much.

"To be a dad has just been an incredible feeling," he said. "I don't know if I can necessarily find words to describe what it's like to be a dad. I think one of the things I have noticed over this past 19 months is how much I love my baby girl."

He said that he will not force his daughter to follow his path. But Liu, who played for the school tennis team at Stanford University, said Lani knows how to hold a racket and can hit the ball well for her age.

Liu added that his baby daughter might become a professional tennis one day.

(By Oscar Wu and Nell Shen)